• Growth rate, extinction and survival amongst late Cenozoic bivalves of the North Atlantic

      Johnson, Andrew L. A.; Harper, Elizabeth M.; Clarke, Abigail; Featherstone, Aaron C.; Heywood, Daniel J.; Richardson, Kathryn E.; Spink, Jack O.; Thornton, Luke A.H.; University of Derby (Taylor & Francis, 2019-09-12)
      Late Cenozoic bivalve extinction in the North Atlantic and adjacent areas has been attributed to environmental change (declines in temperature and primary production). Within scallops and oysters—bivalve groups with a high growth rate—certain taxa which grew exceptionally fast became extinct, while others which grew slower survived. The taxa which grew exceptionally fast would have obtained protection from predators thereby, so their extinction may have been due to the detrimental effect of environmental change on growth rate and ability to avoid predation, rather than environmental change per se. We investigated some glycymeridid and carditid bivalves—groups with a much lower growth rate than scallops and oysters—to see whether extinct forms from the late Cenozoic of the North Atlantic grew faster than extant forms, and hence whether their extinction may also have been mediated by increased mortality due to predation. Growth rate was determined from the cumulative width of annual increments in the hinge area; measurements were scaled up to overall shell size for the purposes of comparison with data from living species. Growth of the extinct glycymeridid Glycymeris subovata was at about the same rate as the slowest-growing living glycymeridid and much slower than in late Cenozoic samples of extant G. americana, in which growth was at about the same rate as the fastest-growing living glycymeridid. Growth of extinct G. obovata was also slower than G. americana, and that of the extinct carditid Cardites squamulosa ampla similarly slow (evidently slower than in the one living carditid species for which data are available). These findings indicate that within bivalve groups whose growth is much slower than scallops and oysters, extinction or survival of taxa through the late Cenozoic was not influenced by whether they were relatively fast or slow growers. By implication, environmental change acted directly to cause extinctions in slow-growing groups, rather than by increasing susceptibility to predation.
    • Lower crustal heterogeneity and fractional crystallisation control evolution of small volume magma batches at ocean island volcanoes (Ascension Island, South Atlantic)

      Chamberlain, Katy J.; Barclay, Jenni; Preece, Katie; Brown, Richard J.; Davidson, Jon P.; Durham University; University of Derby; University of East Anglia; Swansea University (Oxford University Press, 2019-08-10)
      Ocean island volcanoes erupt a wide range of magmatic compositions via a diverse range of eruptive styles. Understanding where and how these melts evolve is thus an essential component in the anticipation of future volcanic activity. Here we examine the role of crustal structure and magmatic flux in controlling the location, evolution and ultimately composition of melts at Ascension Island. Ascension Island, in the south Atlantic, is an ocean island volcano which has produced a continuum of eruptive compositions from basalt to rhyolite in its 1-million-year subaerial eruptive history. Volcanic rocks broadly follow a silica undersaturated subalkaline evolutionary trend and new data presented here show a continuous compositional trend from basalt through trachyte to rhyolite. Detailed petrographic observations are combined with in-situ geochemical analyses of crystals and glass, and new whole rock major and trace element data from mafic and felsic pyroclastic and effusive deposits that span the entire range in eruptive ages and compositions found on Ascension Island. These data show that extensive fractional crystallisation is the main driver for the production of felsic melt for Ascension Island; a volcano built on thin, young, oceanic crust. Strong spatial variations in the compositions of erupted magmas reveals the role of a heterogeneous lower crust: differing degrees of interaction with a zone of plutonic rocks are responsible for the range in mafic lava composition, and for the formation of the central and eastern felsic complexes. A central core of nested small-scale plutonic, or mush-like, bodies inhibits the ascent of mafic magmas, allowing sequential fractional crystallisation within the lower crust, and generating felsic magmas in the core of the island. There is no evidence for magma mixing preserved in any of the studied eruptions, suggesting that magma storage regions are transient, and material is not recycled between eruptions.
    • Slow on the draw: the representation of turtles, terrapins and tortoises in children’s literature

      Beaumont, Ellen S.; Briers, Erin; Harrison, Emma; University of Derby; The Orkney Campus of Heriot-Watt University, Stromness (Springer, 2019-08-08)
      Children’s picture books, both fiction and non-fiction, play a vital role in introducing the reader to the natural world. Here we examine the representation of turtles, terrapins and tortoises (Testudines) in 204 English language picture books and find a mean of 3.9 (SD 9.1) basic biological errors per book. Only 83 (40.7%) of the examined books were found to be error-free in the representation of Testudines, with no significant improvement in biological accuracy being observed over time (book publication date range 1974–2017). Suggestions are made as to how biological accuracy of children’s literature could be improved to help foster children’s understanding and wonder of the natural world. Fantasy and imagination have an important role within children’s literature, but here it is argued that the books children read should support future generations having sufficient understanding of the natural world to imagine the solutions to current environmental problems. A role of children’s picture books should not be to reinforce biological illiteracy.
    • Urban meadows as an alternative to short mown grassland: effects of composition and height on biodiversity

      Norton, Briony, A.; Bending, Gary, D.; Clark, Rachel; Corstanje, Ron; Dunnett, Nigel; Evans, Karl, L.; Grafius, Darren, R.; Gravestock, Emily; Grice, Samuel, M.; Harris, Jim, A.; et al. (Ecological Society of America, 2019-07-22)
      There are increasing calls to provide greenspace in urban areas, yet the ecological quality, as well as quantity, of greenspace is important. Short mown grassland designed for recreational use is the dominant form of urban greenspace in temperate regions but requires considerable maintenance and typically provides limited habitat value for most taxa. Alternatives are increasingly proposed, but the biodiversity potential of these is not well understood. In a replicated experiment across six public urban greenspaces, we used nine different perennial meadow plantings to quantify the relative roles of floristic diversity and height of sown meadows on the richness and composition of three taxonomic groups: plants, invertebrates, and soil microbes. We found that all meadow treatments were colonized by plant species not sown in the plots, suggesting that establishing sown meadows does not preclude further locally determined grassland development if management is appropriate. Colonizing species were rarer in taller and more diverse plots, indicating competition may limit invasion rates. Urban meadow treatments contained invertebrate and microbial communities that differed from mown grassland. Invertebrate taxa responded to changes in both height and richness of meadow vegetation, but most orders were more abundant where vegetation height was longer than mown grassland. Order richness also increased in longer vegetation and Coleoptera family richness increased with plant diversity in summer. Microbial community composition seems sensitive to plant species composition at the soil surface (0–10 cm), but in deeper soils (11–20 cm) community variation was most responsive to plant height, with bacteria and fungi responding differently. In addition to improving local residents’ site satisfaction, native perennial meadow plantings can produce biologically diverse grasslands that support richer and more abundant invertebrate communities, and restructured plant, invertebrate, and soil microbial communities compared with short mown grassland. Our results suggest that diversification of urban greenspace by planting urban meadows in place of some mown amenity grassland is likely to generate substantial biodiversity benefits, with a mosaic of meadow types likely to maximize such benefits.
    • Using GIS-linked Bayesian Belief Networks as a tool for modelling urban biodiversity.

      Corstanje, Ron; Warren, Philip H.; Evans, Karl L.; Siriwardena, Gavin M.; Pescott, Oliver L.; Plummer, Kate E.; Mears, Meghann; Zawadzka, Joanna; Richards, J. Paul; Harris, Jim A.; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-05-30)
      The ability to predict spatial variation in biodiversity is a long-standing but elusive objective of landscape ecology. It depends on a detailed understanding of relationships between landscape and patch structure and taxonomic richness, and accurate spatial modelling. Complex heterogeneous environments such as cities pose particular challenges, as well as heightened relevance, given the increasing rate of urbanisation globally. Here we use a GIS-linked Bayesian Belief Network approach to test whether landscape and patch structural characteristics (including vegetation height, green-space patch size and their connectivity) drive measured taxonomic richness of numerous invertebrate, plant, and avian groups. We find that modelled richness is typically higher in larger and better-connected green-spaces with taller vegetation, indicative of more complex vegetation structure and consistent with the principle of ‘bigger, better, and more joined up’. Assessing the relative importance of these variables indicates that vegetation height is the most influential in determining richness for a majority of taxa. There is variation, however, between taxonomic groups in the relationships between richness and landscape structural characteristics, and the sensitivity of these relationships to particular predictors. Consequently, despite some broad commonalities, there will be trade-offs between different taxonomic groups when designing urban landscapes to maximise biodiversity. This research demonstrates the feasibility of using a GIS-coupled Bayesian Belief Network approach to model biodiversity at fine spatial scales in complex landscapes where current data and appropriate modelling approaches are lacking, and our findings have important implications for ecologists, conservationists and planners.
    • The use of animal-borne cameras to video-track the behaviour of domestic cats.

      Huck, Maren; Watson, Samantha; University of Derby; Manchester Metropolitan University (Elsevier, 2019-05-07)
      Free roaming domestic animals can have a profound effect on wildlife. To better understand and mitigate any impact, it is important to understand the behaviour patterns of the domestic animals, and how other variables might influence their behaviour. Direct observation is not always feasible and bears the potential risk of observer effects. The use of animal-borne small videocameras provides the opportunity to study behaviour from the animal’s point of view. While video-tracking has been used previously to study specific aspects of the behaviour of a species, it has not been used so far to determine detailed time-budgets. The aim of this study was to provide and validate an ethogram based on cat-camera footage collected from 16 cats (Felis catus). The methodology was validated comparing films recorded simultaneously, from both collar-mounted video recorders and hand-held video recorders. Additionally, the inter-observer reliability of scorers was measured. Continuous and instantaneous recording regimes were compared, and behavioural accumulation curves were evaluated to provide further technique recommendations for video-tracking cats. Video-tracking allows scoring of behaviour as reliably as direct observation (linear mixed effects model: t<0.001, P = 0.99; df= 14 in 7 cats; Cohen's κ =0.88). Furthermore, interobserver reliability was high (Cohen's κ = 0.72) and was not significantly different from 0.8 (one-sample t-test: t=1.15. df=5, P = 0.30), indicating that the method is not subject to bias in observers. Recommendations are given for the most efficient scoring protocol to reliably record feline behaviour. While the validation was concerned with cat behaviour, the approach can be easily adapted for a variety of domestic species, as well as some captive animals. Video-tracking offers a new avenue to investigate both general time-budgets and more specific behaviours such as foraging or space use from the animal's point of view and in its normal environment, without restrictions to movement. Insights gained through video-tracking will be relevant to various conservation and animal welfare issues.
    • Life history, environment and extinction of the scallop Carolinapecten eboreus (Conrad) in the Plio-Pleistocene of the U.S. eastern seaboard.

      Johnson, Andrew L. A.; Valentine, Annemarie M.; Leng, Melanie J.; Schöne, Bernd R.; Sloane, Hilary J.; University of Derby; Nottingham Trent University; British Geological Survey; University of Mainz (SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), 2019-02-01)
      Plio-Pleistocene mass extinction of marine bivalves on the U.S. eastern seaboard has been attributed to declines in temperature and primary production. We investigate the relationship of growth rate in the scallop Carolinapecten eboreus to variation in these parameters to determine which contributed to its extinction. We use ontogenetic profiles of shell d18O to estimate growth rate and seasonal temperature, microgrowth-increment data to validate d18O-based figures for growth rate, and shell d13C to supplement assemblage evidence of production. Postlarval growth started in the spring/summer in individuals from the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain but in the autumn/winter in some from the Gulf Coastal Plain. Growth rate typically declined with age and was usually higher in summer than winter. Many individuals died in winter but the largest forms typically died in spring, possibly on spawning for the first time. No individuals lived longer than two years and some grew exceedingly fast overall, up to 60% more rapidly than any other scallop species (, 145.7 mm in a year). Faster growth was generally achieved by secreting more rather than larger microgrowth increments. Some very fast-growing individuals lived in settings of high production and low temperature. No individuals grew slowly under high production whereas most if not all grew slowly under ‘average’ production and low temperature. In that the rapid growth evidently enabled by high production would have afforded protection from predators, Plio-Pleistocene decline in production was probably contributory to the extinction of C. eboreus. However, the negative impact of low temperature on growth under ‘average’ production suggests that temperature decline played some part.
    • Analogue Modeling of Plate Rotation Effects in Transform Margins and Rift‐Transform Intersections

      Farangitakis, Georgios-Pavlos; Sokoutis, D; McCaffrey, Kenneth; Willingshofer , Ernst; Kalnins, Lara; Phethean, Jordan; van Hunen, Jeroen; van steen, V; University of Durham; University of Oslo; et al. (Wiley, 2019-01-29)
      Transform margins are first‐order tectonic features that accommodate oceanic spreading. Uncertainties remain about their evolution, genetic relationship to oceanic spreading, and general structural character. When the relative motion of the plates changes during the margin evolution, further structural complexity is added. This work investigates the evolution of transform margins and associated rift‐transform intersections, using an analogue modeling approach that simulates changing plate motions. We investigate the effects of different crustal rheologies by using either (a) a two‐layer brittle‐ductile configuration to simulate upper and lower continental crust, or (b) a single layer brittle configuration to simulate oceanic crust. The modeled rifting is initially orthogonal, followed by an imposed plate vector change of 7° that results in oblique rifting and plate overlap (transpression) or underlap (transtension) along each transform margin. This oblique deformation reactivates and overprints earlier orthogonal structures and is representative of natural examples. We find that (a) a transtensional shift in the plate direction produces a large strike‐slip principal displacement zone, accompanied by en‐echelon oblique‐normal faults that accommodate the horizontal displacement until the new plate motion vector is stabilized, while (b) a transpressional shift produces compressional structures such as thrust fronts in a triangular zone in the area of overlap. These observations are in good agreement with natural examples from the Gulf of California (transtensional) and Tanzania Coastal Basin (transpressional) shear margins and illustrate that when these deformation patterns are present, a component of plate vector change should be considered in the evolution of transform margins.
    • Potential of Retrofitting Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems Using an Integrated Geographical Information System Remote Sensing Based Approach

      Ferrier, G.; Milan, D.; Keat Yew, C.; Pope, R.J.; University of Hull; University of Derby (2018-12-06)
      Flooding is a major problem in urban areas worldwide. Methodologies that can rapidly assess the scale and identify the reasons causing these flooding events at minimal cost are urgently required. This study has used the City of Kingston-upon-Hull to evaluate the capability of an integrated remote sensing and geographical information system based approach to provide the critical information on the spatial extent of flooding and flood water volumes and overcome the limitations in current monitoring based on ground-based visual mapping and household flooding surveys. Airborne and Terrestrial LiDAR datasets were combined with digital aerial photography, flood assessment surveys, and maps of housing, infrastructure and the sewer network. The integration of these datasets provided an enhanced understanding of the sources and pathways of the flood water runoff, accurate quantification of the water volumes associated with each flooding event and the identification of the optimum locations and size of potential retrofit Sustainable Urban Drainage systems.
    • First detection of a highly invasive freshwater amphipod Crangonyx floridanus (Bousfield, 1963) in the United Kingdom.

      Mauvisseau, Quentin; Davy-Bowker, John; Bryson, David; Souch, Graham; Burian, Alfred; Sweet, Michael J.; University of Derby; Surescreen Scientifics Ltd; Freshwater Biological Association; Natural History Museum (Regional Euro-Asian biological Invasions Centre, 2018-12-05)
      The freshwater gammarid, Crangonyx floridanus, originates from North America but has invaded and subsequently spread rapidly throughout Japan. We provide here the first genetic and microscopic evidence that C. floridanus has now also reached the United Kingdom. We found this species in two locations separated by more than 200 km (Lake Windermere in the North of the UK and Smestow Brook, West Midlands). The current distribution of C. floridanus is currently unknown, however, both sites are well connected to other river and canal systems. Therefore, the chance of further spread is high. Genetic analyses of C. floridanus indicate that British inland waters are colonised by the same lineage, which invaded Japan. We recommend further work to assess the distribution of this species and its impact on the local fauna and flora.
    • Bridging the gap: 40Ar/39Ar dating of volcanic eruptions from the ‘Age of Discovery’

      Preece, Katie; Mark, Darren F.; Barclay, Jenni; Cohen, Benjamin E.; Chamberlain, Katy J.; Jowitt, Claire; Vye-Brown, Charlotte; Brown, Richard J.; Hamilton, Scott; Isotope Geoscience Unit, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride; et al. (Geological Society of America, 2018-11-09)
      Many volcanoes worldwide still have poorly resolved eruption histories, with the date of the last eruption often undetermined. One such example is Ascension Island, where the timing of the last eruption, and consequently, the activity status of the volcano, is unclear. Here, we use the 40Ar/39Ar dating technique to resolve ages of the three youngest lava flows on the island, which are hawaiites and mugearite with 1.5 – 1.9 wt% K2O. In dating these lavas, we provide the first evidence of Holocene volcanic activity on Ascension (0.51 ± 0.18 ka; 0.55 ± 0.12 ka; 1.64 ± 0.37 ka), determining that it should be classed as an active volcanic system. In addition, we demonstrate that the 40Ar/39Ar method can reproducibly date mafic lava flows younger than 1 ka, decreasing the gap between recorded history and geological dating. These results offer new prospects for determining patterns of late-Holocene volcanic activity; critical for accurate volcanic hazard assessment.
    • Coral reef carbonate budgets and ecological drivers in the central Red Sea: a naturally high temperature and high total alkalinity environment.

      Roik, Anna; Röthig, Till; Pogoreutz, Claudia; Saderne, Vincent; Voolstra, Christian R.; King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST); University of Derby (European Geosciences Union, 2018-10-26)
      The structural framework provided by corals is crucial for reef ecosystem function and services, but high seawater temperatures can be detrimental to the calcification capacity of reef-building organisms. The Red Sea is very warm, but total alkalinity (TA) is naturally high and beneficial for reef accretion. To date, we know little about how such detrimental and beneficial abiotic factors affect each other and the balance between calcification and erosion on Red Sea coral reefs, i.e., overall reef growth, in this unique ocean basin. To provide estimates of present-day reef growth dynamics in the central Red Sea, we measured two metrics of reef growth, i.e., in situ net-accretion/-erosion rates (Gnet) determined by deployment of limestone blocks and ecosystem-scale carbonate budgets (Gbudget), along a crossshelf gradient (25 km, encompassing nearshore, midshore, and offshore reefs). Along this gradient, we assessed multiple abiotic (i.e., temperature, salinity, diurnal pH fluctuation, inorganic nutrients, and TA) and biotic (i.e., calcifier and epilithic bioeroder communities) variables. Both reef growth metrics revealed similar patterns from nearshore to offshore: net-erosive, neutral, and net-accretion states. The average cross-shelf Gbudget was 0.66 kg CaCO3 m−2 yr−1 , with the highest budget of 2.44 kg CaCO3 m−2 yr−1 measured in the offshore reef. These data are comparable to the contemporary Gbudgets from the western Atlantic and Indian oceans, but lie well below “optimal reef production” (5–10 kg CaCO3 m−2 yr−1 ) and below maxima recently recorded in remote high coral cover reef sites. However, the erosive forces observed in the Red Sea nearshore reef contributed less than observed elsewhere. A higher TA accompanied reef growth across the shelf gradient, whereas stronger diurnal pH fluctuations were associated with negative carbonate budgets. Noteworthy for this oligotrophic region was the positive effect of phosphate, which is a central micronutrient for reef building corals. While parrotfish contributed substantially to bioerosion, our dataset also highlights coralline algae as important local reef builders. Altogether, our study establishes a baseline for reef growth in the central Red Sea that should be useful in assessing trajectories of reef growth capacity under current and future ocean scenarios
    • Mass mortality hits gorgonian forests at Montecristo Island.

      Turicchia, Eva; Abbiati, Marco; Sweet, Michael J.; Ponti, Massimo; University of Bologna; Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca per le Scienze Ambientali (CIRSA); Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare (CoNISMa); Polytechnic University of Marche; Istituto di Scienze Marine (ISMAR); University of Derby (Inter Research, 2018-10-16)
      Mediterranean gorgonian forests are species-rich habitats, and like many other marine habitats they are threatened by anthropogenic disturbances and mass mortality events. These mortality events have often been linked to anomalies in the temperature profiles of the Mediterranean region. On 5 September 2017, colonies of the gorgonians Eunicella singularis and Eunicella cavolini exhibited rapid tissue loss, down to a depth of 30 m along the steep cliffs of Montecristo Island, Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. Interestingly, Montecristo has previously been identified as a reference site for the ecological quality assessment of the western Mediterranean benthic assemblages on rocky bottoms. The observed mortality event occurred during a period of increased sea temperature. By utilising a combination of high-resolution oceanographic analysis, forecast models and citizen science initiatives, we propose that an early warning system for the concomitance of heat waves and mortality events can be put in place. A temperature-based coral disease surveillance tool could then be established for the entire Mediterranean Sea. Such a tool would allow for the timely study of mass mortality phenomena and the implementation of prompt mitigation and/or restoration initiatives. Finally, this specific mortality event, in a Marine Protected Area, offers a unique opportunity to monitor and assess the resilience of gorgonian populations and associated benthic assemblages in the absence of other, more directly, anthropogenic disturbances such as pollution and land runoff.
    • Spatio-temporal dynamics and aetiology of proliferative leg skin lesions in wild British finches

      Lawson, Becki; Robinson, Robert A.; Fernandez, Julia Rodriguez-Ramos; John, Shinto K.; Benitez, Laura; Tolf, Conny; Risely, Kate; Toms, Mike P.; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Williams, Richard A. J.; et al. (Nature Publiching Group, 2018-10-10)
      Proliferative leg skin lesions have been described in wild finches in Europe although there have been no large-scale studies of their aetiology or epizootiology to date. Firstly, disease surveillance, utilising public reporting of observations of live wild finches was conducted in Great Britain (GB) and showed proliferative leg skin lesions in chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) to be widespread. Seasonal variation was observed, with a peak during the winter months. Secondly, pathological investigations were performed on a sample of 39 chaffinches, four bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), one greenfinch (Chloris chloris) and one goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) with proliferative leg skin lesions and detected Cnemidocoptes sp. mites in 91% (41/45) of affected finches and from all species examined. Fringilla coelebs papillomavirus (FcPV1) PCR was positive in 74% (23/31) of birds tested: a 394 base pair sequence was derived from 20 of these birds, from all examined species, with 100% identity to reference genomes. Both mites and FcPV1 DNA were detected in 71% (20/28) of birds tested for both pathogens. Histopathological examination of lesions did not discriminate the relative importance of mite or FcPV1 infection as their cause. Development of techniques to localise FcPV1 within lesions is required to elucidate the pathological significance of FcPV1 DNA detection.
    • Impacts of lagoon opening and implications for coastal management: case study from Muni-Pomadze lagoon, Ghana

      Davies-Vollum, K. Siân; Zhang, Zihao; Agyekumhene, Andrews; University of Derby; University of Virginia; Wildlife Division (Forestry Commission)Winneba,Ghana (Springer, 2018-09-18)
      Lagoon-barrier systems are a dynamic coastal environment. When an ephemeral connection between a lagoon and the ocean develops, it has significant impact on hydrology, sedimentology and ecology. Increasingly, human actions and sea level rise also influence lagoons with the potential to increase their connectivity with the ocean. TheMuni-Pomadze lagoon in central Ghana is a small lagoon-barrier system that is intermittently open to the ocean. Following opening in 2014 the lagoon was open to the ocean for more than two years. Causes for the unusually long period of lagoon opening are unclear although human intrevention has played a role. Field observation, digital mapping and GIS analysis of the shoreline during the two year period of lagoon opening has enabled an understanding of how the lagoon-ocean connection has impacted coastal morphology, erosion and sedimentation. Opening has resulted in rapid changes to the location of the barrier breaching (tidal inlet), erosion on the barrier and sedimentation in the lagoon. Such modifications have implications for local resources and ecosystem services that underpin the livelihood and wellbeing of local communities. Elucidating how a connection to the ocean impacts lagoons and the coastal communities they support are important to managing lagoons not only in Ghana but across West Africa.
    • Plant species or flower colour diversity? Identifying the drivers of public and invertebrate response to designed annual meadows.

      Hoyle, Helen; Norton, Briony, A.; Dunnett, Nigel; Richards, J. Paul; Russell, Jean M.; Warren, Philip H.; University of Sheffield (Elsevier, 2018-09-01)
      There is increasing evidence of the benefits of introducing urban meadows as an alternative to amenity mown grass in public greenspaces, both for biodiversity, and human wellbeing. Developing a better understanding of the meadow characteristics driving human and wildlife response is therefore critical. We addressed this by assessing public and invertebrate response to eight different annual meadow mixes defined by two levels of plant species diversity and two levels of colour diversity, sown in an urban park in Luton, UK, in April 2015. On-site questionnaires with the visiting public were conducted in July, August and September 2015. Invertebrate responses were assessed via contemporaneous visual surveys and one sweep net survey (August 2015). Flower colour diversity had effects on human aesthetic response and the response of pollinators such as bumblebees and hoverflies. Plant species diversity, however, was not a driver of human response with evidence that people used colour diversity as a cue to assessing species diversity. Plant species diversity did affect some invertebrates, with higher abundances of certain taxa in low species diversity meadows. Our findings indicate that if the priority for sown meadows is to maximise human aesthetic enjoyment and the abundance and diversity of observable invertebrates, particularly pollinators, managers of urban green infrastructure should prioritise high flower colour diversity mixes over those of high plant species diversity. Incorporating late-flowering non-native species such as Coreopsis tinctoria (plains coreopsis) can prolong the attractiveness of the meadows for people and availability of resources for pollinators and would therefore be beneficial.
    • Endemicity and climatic niche differentiation in three marine ciliated protists

      Williams, Richard A J; Owens, Hannah L; Clamp, John; Peterson, A Townsend; Warren, Alan; Martin-Cereceda, Mercedes; Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial Model Systems, Linnaeus University, SE-391 82, Kalmar, Sweden; Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA; Department of Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040, Madrid, Spain; Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA; et al. (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), 2018-07-18)
      The biogeographic pattern of single‐celled eukaryotes (protists), including ciliates, is poorly understood. Most marine species are believed to have a relatively high dispersal potential, such that both globally distributed and geographically isolated taxa exist. Primary occurrence data for three large, easily identified ciliate species, Parafavella gigantea, Schmidingerella serrata, and Zoothamnium pelagicum, and environmental data drawn from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's World Ocean Atlas were used to estimate each species’ spatial and environmental distributions using Maxent v3.3.3k. The predictive power of the models was tested with a series of spatial stratification studies, which were evaluated using partial receiver operating characteristic (ROC) statistics. Differences between niches occupied by each taxon were evaluated using background similarity tests. All predictions showed significant ability to anticipate test points. The null hypotheses of niche similarity were rejected in all background similarity tests comparing the niches among the three species. This article provides the first quantitative assessment of environmental conditions associated with three species of ciliates and a first estimate of their spatial distributions in the North Atlantic, which can serve as a benchmark against which to document distributional shifts. These species follow consistent, predictable patterns related to climate and environmental biochemistry; the importance of climatic conditions as regards protist distributions is noteworthy considering the effects of global climate change.
    • Molecular identification of papillomavirus in ducks

      Williams, Richard A. J.; Tolf, Conny; Waldenström, Jonas; Linnaeus University (Nature Research, 2018-06-14)
      Papillomaviruses infect many vertebrates, including birds. Persistent infections by some strains can cause malignant proliferation of cells (i.e. cancer), though more typically infections cause benign tumours, or may be completely subclinical. Sometimes extensive, persistent tumours are recorded– notably in chaffinches and humans. In 2016, a novel papillomavirus genotype was characterized from a duck faecal microbiome, in Bhopal, India; the sixth papillomavirus genotype from birds. Prompted by this finding, we screened 160 cloacal swabs and 968 faecal samples collected from 299 ducks sampled at Ottenby Bird Observatory, Sweden in 2015, using a newly designed real-time PCR. Twenty one samples (1.9%) from six individuals (2%) were positive. Eighteen sequences were identical to the published genotype, duck papillomavirus 1. One additional novel genotype was recovered from three samples. Both genotypes were recovered from a wild strain domestic mallard that was infected for more than 60 days with each genotype. All positive individuals were adult (P = 0.004). Significantly more positive samples were detected from swabs than faecal samples (P < 0.0001). Sample type data suggests transmission may be via direct contact, and only infrequently, via the oral-faecal route. Infection in only adult birds supports the hypothesis that this virus is sexually transmitted, though more work is required to verify this.
    • Marine climate and hydrography of the Coralline Crag (early Pliocene, UK): isotopic evidence from 16 benthic invertebrate taxa.

      Vignols, Rebecca M.; Valentine, Annemarie M.; Finlayson, Alana G.; Harper, Elizabeth M.; Schöne, Bernd R.; Leng, Melanie J.; Sloane, Hilary J.; Johnson, Andrew L. A.; University of Derby; University of Cambridge; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-05-24)
      The taxonomic composition of the biota of the Coralline Crag Formation (early Pliocene, eastern England) provides conflicting evidence of seawater temperature during deposition, some taxa indicating cool temperate conditions by analogy with modern representatives or relatives, others warm temperate to subtropical/tropical conditions. Previous isotopic (δ18O) evidence of seasonal seafloor temperatures from serial ontogenetic sampling of bivalve mollusk shells indicated cool temperate winter (< 10 °C) and/or summer (< 20 °C) conditions but was limited to nine profiles from two species, one ranging into and one occurring exclusively in cool temperate settings at present. We supplement these results with six further profiles from the species concerned and supply seven more from three other taxa (two supposedly indicative of warm waters) to provide an expanded and more balanced database. We also supply isotopic temperature estimates from 81 spot and whole-shell samples from these five taxa and 11 others, encompassing ‘warm’, ‘cool’ and ‘eurythermal’ forms by analogy with modern representatives or relatives. Preservation tests show no shell alteration. Subject to reasonable assumptions about water δ18O, the shell δ18O data either strongly indicate or are at least consistent with cool temperate seafloor conditions. The subtropical/tropical conditions suggested by the presence of the bryozoan Metrarabdotos did not exist. Microgrowth-increment and δ13C evidence indicate summer water-column stratification during deposition of the Ramsholt Member, unlike in the adjacent southern North Sea at present (well mixed due to shallow depth and strong tidal currents). Summer maximum surface temperature was probably about 5 °C above seafloor temperature and thus often slightly higher than now (17–19 °C rather than 16–17 °C), but only sometimes in the warm temperate range. Winter minimum surface temperature was below 10 °C and possibly the same as at present (6–7 °C). An expanded surface temperature range compared to now may reflect withdrawal of oceanic heat supply in conjunction with higher global temperature.
    • The impact of freshwater mussels (order Unionoida) on river bed characteristics and sediment flux: A flume-based study.

      Leng, Andrea; Davies-Vollum, K. Siân; Ramsey, Andrew; University of Derby (2018-05-05)
      Unionoid mussels are considered keystone species due to their ability to modify and link pelagic, benthic and hyporheic environments in freshwater systems, [1,2,3] yet empirical data to determine their influence on river bed dynamics and sediment flux is lacking. A recirculating flume-based study using fifty individuals of the unionoid species Anodonta anatina investigated the impact of this species on bedform development and particle flux of a polymodal substrate representative of the grain size distribution of the mussel's river habitat. River seston was added to the flume at weekly intervals, and water and substrate conditions were monitored for the eight-week duration of the study. The control experiment had mussels absent from the flume. It was found that the presence of A. anatina increased the organic content of the substrate through deposition of pseudofaeces, and led to significant reductions in near-bed velocity, boundary shear-stress and the amount of suspended and dissolved solids in the water column. However, despite these impacts a greater quantity of sediment and a larger range of grainsizes entered the flume's sediment trap compared to the control experiment when mussels were absent. The impact of mussel bioturbation appears to outweigh any sediment stabilisation effects arising from the increased organic content of the substrate and the reduced near bed velocities. Additionally, sediment grainsize and longitudinal wetted profile measurements indicate that the mussels increased bed roughness and heterogeneity of the substrate. Given that freshwater mussels can exist at very high densities within rivers, [3] increased mixing and mobilisation of bedload, improved habitat heterogeneity and the transferral of material from the water to the substrate by mussels implies they constitute a critical element in the sediment and nutrient dynamics of fluvial systems. References: 1. Vaughn, C.C., Nichols, S.J. & Spooner, D.E., 2008. Community and foodweb ecology of freshwater mussels. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 27(2), pp.409-423. 2. Gutierrez, J.L. et al., 2003. Mollusks as ecosystem engineers: the role of shell production in aquatic habitats. Oikos, 101(1), pp.79-90. 3. Aldridge, D.C. et al, 2007. Freshwater mussel abundance predicts biodiversity in UK lowland rivers. Aquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 17(January), pp.554-564.